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University of Guelph
HIST 2260
Norman Smith

Introduction We begin with England, as the reform movement in England was to have repercussions in the rest of the British Isles — in Wales, in Scotland, and in Ireland, although in different ways and to different degrees. Indeed it might be said that had England remained Catholic, which as you will see was a matter of historical chance rather than design, it is doubtful the Protestant Reformation would have succeeded in Scotland or Wales or, thus finally, in North America. This is not to say that each country was influenced in the same way and to the same degree — they were not — but that the dominant position of England within the British Isles had an impact far beyond its borders, and across time also. England was to be dominated theologically by Calvinism for more than a century, but it was a Calvinism modified by a royal determination to keep certain aspects of Catholicism — a very odd mixture, which was to lead to conflict. England is a good example too of a process I call the nationalisation of religion. Prior to the Reformation, all western Europe ascribed to one form of Christianity. Nationalism had not yet developed either. That is, people spoke different languages, and felt an attachment to their local village or town or region — but did not combine this cultural description with any form of loyalty to a country as we do today. Rather they described themselves as Christians who happened to speak different dialects of English or French or German, or other languages, and happened to have a different king as their supreme ruler. In Unit 1, I noted that the Reformation was made possible in a practical sense by the support of local rulers. That is, if a local ruler opted for the ideas which germinated in Wittenburg and Geneva, they could only be stopped through warfare. Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, attempted to reinstate Catholicism in central Europe, but because of the sheer number of states which left the Church and because he was distracted by the threat of Islam he did not succeed, except in areas close to the centre of his power — in the south of Germany. Places such as England were too far removed from Charles’s armies to be threatened realistically. Nationalisation of Religion Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary: The First Interlude When in 1534 Henry VIII was proclaimed Supreme Head of the Church in England (note, not the Church of England, but in England), this was the beginning of the trend for Christianity in England to become identified with one national group rather than many. Henry, the good Catholic, was compelled to do this because his Queen, Catherine of Aragon, did not produce a male heir. This was especially important in those days, not only because generally (but not always) men ruled — but because Henry’s family, the Tudors, were new to the throne. His father, Henry VII, had been the victor in a civil war in England, and was the founding member of a new dynasty. Henry VIII, his son, could not risk another civil war breaking on his death, and felt the need for a son, rather than a daughter, to succeed him. Ironically, he was to be proven wrong in this, as he was to be followed by a short-lived son, then two daughters, the second of whom was to be remembered as England’s greatest monarch. But this is to ascribe to Henry the ability to foresee the future, which none of us have. Henry followed with a moderate reform of the church in England, firstly and most importantly ordering an English translation of the Bible be placed in each church. While the Bible was to form a common focal point for all Protestants, its translation into vernacular languages was to cause a tendency to ‘nationalize’ scripture. There was, curiously, little opposition to Henry’s moves: most notably Thomas More, and one Bishop, John Fisher, were executed for failing to submit. For ordinary people, little changed in their religious practices except for the slow introduction of English into services. The one major change that altered the landscape of faith was the dissolution of the monasteries, beginning in 1536. Monasteries dotted the countryside and towns and cities of England. Monks and nuns, belonging to many religious orders, were a large presence, who incidentally provided most of the social welfare in society. Henry needed money, however, and expropriated the buildings and lands of the monasteries, then sold them off to private individuals. Most of the monks and nuns were pensioned off, though some of the men became parish priests in local churches. You might like to read Eamon Duffy's "The Voices of Morebath", which tells the story of one English village and its priest throughout the Reformation period — and puts a human face on these changes. By 1539, Henry called a halt to further changes with the Act of Six Articles. This Act reaffirmed traditional Catholic theological teachings (except of course the Papacy!) — the penalty for refusing to assent being death. Hence Henry was in the ironic position in the history of the Reformation of executing both Catholics and Protestants for heresy. You might call his reform at this point ‘Catholicism without the Pope’. Click here to sample some music composed by Henry VIII. HENRY-VIII-KING-OF-ENGLAND-Complete-Music-of-He-MP3-Download/11152807.html Whatever the nature of religion in Henry’s England , his only legitimate son, Edward, was raised a Protestant and a Calvinist. Henry died in 1547, and the nine-year-old Edward VI became King. The country was actually ruled by a committee of Protestant nobles, though recent research has found Edward had more influence than previously thought. We forget that people had to mature faster in those days when life spans were much shorter than today. Royal commissioners were sent out across the kingdom to ensure that a strict Protestantism was enforced. Wall paintings in churches (a common English style — paintings of saints and Biblical stories adorned church walls) were whitewashed, altars smashed, gold and silver cups and plates sold off, stained-glass windows destroyed, and the interior architecture of churches altered to change the focus from the Mass at the altar, to an auditorium style where preaching was the focus. The altered service of the English church was changed fundamentally with the introduction of the Book of Common Prayer in 1549. (See ) This is a single volume compendium of all the rites of Anglicanism — Holy Communion (formerly the Mass), morning prayers, evening prayers, baptisms, funerals, marriages, the Psalms, and other miscellaneous prayers for special occasions and purposes. It, along with the English language Bible, was to become the focus of Anglican belief and practice from then until today — with one or two interludes. A second, more strictly Calvinist, revised prayer book was produced in 1552, and the next year an attempt to define the English reformation in 41 articles of faith. But then, the 13 year old Edward VI died and was succeeded by his Catholic sister Mary. This was the first interlude in the English reform. Mary re-introduced Catholicism. This was a very popular act, as most of the people in England were not happy with the reform. Catholic statues, silver cups, even altars were hidden all over the country —buried in gardens or hidden away in isolated barns. The people dug them up, brought them out again, and re-decorated their churches for the Catholic Mass once again. Mary tested the support of her people when she married Philip of Spain, the son and heir of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.Mary had, ironically, a good relationship with her half-sister Elizabeth and with two of her father’s wives (even though they were Protestants). After a rebellion nearly overthrew Mary, she instituted reprisals, executing many Protestants. Her reign was not particularly bloody, but her reputation was attacked by one of the earliest examples of propaganda: John Foxe’s illustrated book "Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days", touching Matters of the Church. Published in 1563, it related the persecution of Protestants by Mary and linked them to the persecution of other individuals he saw as precursors to Protestantism in the past. The Elizabethan Settlement and Its Limits: Anglicans, Catholics and Puritans Mary died in 1558 and was succeeded by her Protestant half-sister, Elizabeth. Elizabeth I was determined to restore the Protestant settlement — no doubt in that fervently religious age because this was her belief, but also because the firmly nationalistic churches of the Protestant Reformation were easier to control. She would have no Pope — no outside authority above her own in this world to deal with — but a compliant church and religious establishment to help set the tone of the nation and to hold it together. It helped her policy that Elizabeth reigned for a long period, from 1558–1603. In this reign, she re-established Anglicanism as the Church of England, firstly through legal process: (See Elizabeth I and religion, 1558-1603 Doran, Susan. London ; New York : Routledge 1994) 1559: Act of Uniformity
 This was similar to Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy of 1534, an attempt to legally ‘nationalize’ religion in England. It was accompanied by attempts to extend this to all the British Isles — which ended in failure. In it, the monarch was now called the ‘supreme governor’ of the church (as Elizabeth II is today) and a 3rd Book of Common Prayer was issued. For the historian, a point to be remembered here is that religious freedom was not intended, but rather the imposition of a Protestant form, dictated by the State. There was no sense that religion was a private, individual matter, or that religion should be divorced from the State. Rather, religion was still religio, a public matter which bolstered the administration and was itself supported by the monarchy and the levers of government. In non-theological terms, the only change was from an international religion to a national religion, which matched the growth of political nationalism in this period of history — which was a new concept. 1562: Book of Metrical Psalms
 Published in English, this book set the public style of worship in Anglican churches until the 19th century. The form of worship in the new Church of England (Anglican, that is) was to consist from this time on of readings and prayers in English — the readings being from the Bible, and the prayers composed based on Biblical texts, accompanied by psalms chanted or sung. Despite the modern association of choral music with English churches, in Anglicanism, this was a late development — except in cathedrals where a Catholic musical tradition survived (i.e. parts of the service were sung by the choir) the norm for the first two hundred years of Anglicanism did not include hymns (as in Lutheran churches), but only psalms. 1563: Catechism
 A ‘catechism’ is usually a written presentation of religious beliefs in question and answer format. By this time, the Lutherans had catechisms produced by Martin Luther himself, and the Calvinists had Jean Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. Anglicanism was functioning on a kind of ‘ad hoc’ make-it-up-as-you-go system. This catechism was the first attempt to provide a means of teaching what members of the Church of England were supposed to believe. The 42 articles of Edward’s reign were mostly for clergy and theologians, not ordinary people. The catechism of 1563 presented a form of religion which defined Anglicanism as treading a middle path between Calvinism and Lutheranism — with vestiges of Catholicism. 1563: 38 Articles of Religion
 In the same year, theologians agreed on 38 theological principles which underlay the new Church of England. 1571: 39 Articles of Faith
 This was the final form of the theological principles of Anglicanism, which still exist to the present. All clergy — but never the laity — were required to assent to these articles, as were students at Oxford and Cambridge (which were the training grounds for Anglican clergy). Nonetheless, the articles were characterized by ambiguity on most of the theological arguments of the day between different Protestant groups. England became a confessional state in this period; that is, the Church of England was not only established legally, but it became integrated into the hearts and minds of the people as a part of the national identity. Even today, with broad secularization, English people maintain a kind of nationalist adherence to the Church of England. Whether one actually assents to the doctrines of Anglicanism is less important than assenting to the forms of Anglicanism in public. It was from this time a civic duty and a civic necessity for full citizenship. Thus the English maintained and even revived the old Roman sense of religio — that religion is a public duty and a public act, whatever you may personally believe yourself. Those who did not assent were for the first three centuries of Anglicanism occasionally persecuted. They were not thrown to the lions as in ancient Rome, but did suffer under various legal disabilities, some quite harsh. It seems likely that this top-down, imposed faith became popular for certain particular reasons. First, and more mundanely, was because Elizabeth II was Queen for so long. By the time she died in 1603, there were very few people living who remembered Catholic England, or even the Calvinist England of Edward VI. Secondly, in 1570, the Pope ex-communicated Elizabeth, and Catholic Spain thus took it upon itself to attempt to conquer England in order to remove the heretic Elizabeth and restore this realm to the Catholic faith. Thus, Anglicanism began to represent nationalism, or rather Catholicism began to be equated with treason. There were, however, limits. The first problem was the survival of Catholicism. Elizabeth employed the same methods her half-brother Edward had used to attack the old religion — and the same methods her half-sister Mary had used to restore the Old Religion — Royal Commissioners were sent out to travel the country side enforcing the various legal changes to ritual, ritual ornaments and architecture. They had the most difficulty enforcing the changes in the area of rituals surrounding death and what happens to one after death. The Catholic Church in England had always successfully addressed this issue — in ways which ordinary people found deeply satisfying. We must remember, too, that Catholicism was never entirely suppressed — that somewhere around 10 percent of the population never abandoned the Old Religion (as it was called for some time), especially in the north of England, where powerful nobles controlled vast tracts of land (thousands of acres each) and many of these powerful nobles remained Catholic, particularly the Howard family. They sent promising young men to Europe to train for the priesthood in seminaries set up there in exile to train English priests, then brought them back to provide for the local Catholic populations. These estates were so large that they contained entire villages, which remained Catholic. Great lords also built chapels in their mansions. Of course, after 1570, the position of Catholics became more difficult as Catholicism in England became equated with treason from that time. Various increasingly harsher laws were passed with the penalty of death — for being a priest, for allowing a Mass to be said, and so on. Even today, when there are more practising Catholics in England and Wales than there are Anglicans, Catholicism is still considered by many ordinary people to be a foreign religion. The second problem, the Puritans, was even more dangerous to Anglicanism. From the 1570s a dissident group within the Church of England — who came to be known as Puritans — worked to further ‘purify’ the Church of England, to purge it of remaining resemblances to Catholicism, such as having bishops, and to establish church government by presbyteries (that is, councils of local church members) rather than by bishops. Outward appearances were vital to this project, because all religious people still thought in terms of religio. The special clothing worn by priests or ministers was a flash point in Elizabeth’s reign. Catholic priests had worn elaborate robes (called vestments), each part of which had symbolic importance. Church of England priests wore vestments only slightly simplified from the mediaeval Catholic robes. In Calvinist and Lutheran lands, clergy wore ordinary street clothes, or perhaps a simple preaching robe over clothes. This was called the ‘vestiarian controversy’ and was Elizabeth’s most difficult problem to deal with. She was forced to eject Puritan clergy from churches to enforce her choice. The more ‘purely’ Protestant form of religion which is symbolized by vestments was held in check for her reign, and for that of her successor, but was not to be settled finally until 1662. Elizabeth avoided the unhappiness Edward VI’s reforms had caused by allowing many folk religious practices to continue. For example, parish churches, mostly in the countryside, but also in towns, performed a ritual called the ‘beating of the bounds’. This had its origin in pre-Christian times, but was incorporated into English Catholic Christianity from the earliest days. It involved the members of a village church walking the boundaries of their parish, and stopping at marker stones or trees which were beat with sticks, and later bells were rung. Verses from scriptures were chanted, and banners of saints special to the local church and community were carried. Elizabeth allowed this ritual to continue, though without the saints’ images. (See ) Anglicanism can be said to adhere to the principle expressed in an ancient Latin expression: lex orandi, lex credendi - a phrase meaning that if you wished to know what Anglicans believed, you had to see what and how Anglicans prayed. In sum, it was a reform carefully and gradually introduced with a minimum of rancour by a wise monarch. It was to be proved in the next century and last into the modern world. However, the next 80 or so years were to be turbulent times for the new Church of England — as less skillful monarchs than Elizabeth dealt with these same problems less skillfully. 1603–1625: Reign of King James I
 He was also King James VI of Scotland. In 1604, he re-affirmed the nature of English episcopal Protestantism and introduced another Book of Common Prayer, dashing hopes of Puritans that he would introduce Scottish-style Calvinist Protestantism into England. Elizabeth never married, as in marriage the husband is superior and she was unwilling to cede any of her authority. She was succeeded by her nearest relative, James, who was already King of Scotland. Scotland , as we shall see, was already Protestant, in a fiercely Calvinist form. 1611: The Bible, King James Version
 Perhaps the greatest product of his reign was the Authorized Version or King James version of the Bible in English. It was to be (and still is, to many) the standard Protestant Bible in English-speaking countries. It was a rare instance of ‘internationalism’ rather than ‘nationalism’ within English-speaking Protestantism — perhaps because both Puritans and episcopal Anglicans worked on the translation, perhaps because the English language was at its height in terms of poetic expression, or perhaps because ‘sola scriptura’ was common to all Protestants. It is a remarkable achievement as its cadences and use of language were to influence the language and, more importantly, the imagination of the English-speaking world until well into the 20th century, whether Anglican or other Protestant Christian. The Second Interlude The Puritan Challenge to the Church of England: The English Civil War, Commonwealth & Protectorate 1642–1660 From the death of James I in 1625 to 1662 was a period when the middle-of-the-road Anglican settlement battled with Puritanism, resulting in the eventual victory of Anglicanism. King Charles I, the son of James I, reigned from 1625 until his execution in 1649 — at which time England ceased temporarily to be a monarchy, and experimented with ‘puritanism’ in religion. This era known as the English Civil War is usually described in political terms but was as much a religious war as a civil war, and is our second interlude from an otherwise unbroken narrative of Anglicanism. This period was a reaction firstly against attempts by Charles I to rule without parliament, and secondly, against attempts by Charles and his chief bishop, William Laud, to impose a much more Catholic style of Anglicanism, not only on England, but also on Scotland — Charles being also king of that still-separate country. Parliament, however, included as its strongest allies Puritans who felt the English reformation was not complete, and particularly hated Charles as they suspected him of being a closet Catholic. It did not help that his wife Henrietta Maria was Catholic. As a result civil war broke out, with the royalists and Anglicans on one side, and the forces of parliament headed by Puritans on the other. At this point, I should say a few brief words about parliament. Parliament began as a royal advisory council, with gradually growing powers of taxation which exceeded those held by the monarch. Unlike kings in France or Spain, English kings were forced to work with parliament because of this financial clout. Thus English democracy (still far in the future) had its ea
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